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Boudart hopes to turn lifelong passion for the sea into a career

by Ryan MarshallStaff Writer

Conor Boudart always has been drawn to the sea.

His paternal grandfather served in the Coast Guard, and one of his uncles piloted a tug boat escorting ships into port on the Delaware River.

Boudart, 18, spent summers at his grandmother’s house in Ocean City, N.J., fishing, boating and surfing.

“I always knew I wanted to live near the water,” he said.

After his graduation from Middletown High School on June 5, he’ll go to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzard’s Bay, Mass.

Boudart said he’s not sure what he’ll study, but he’s leaning toward marine transportation to get his Coast Guard license and work toward his goal of one day becoming the captain of a ship.

The academy has a sea term with its own 15,500 horsepower, 540-foot steamship, the Kennedy, where students serve as the crew and get to travel to various parts of the world.

It will be a hard four years, full of academic and physical challenges. The academy’s website offers cadets a chance to “live, study, sail, work and play in an atmosphere that encourages you to be your best.”

Along with his classes and time on the water, Boudart also plans to play ice hockey and lacrosse at the school.

He’s played hockey for about 10 years, and said similarities between the sports made lacrosse an easy crossover when he began playing three years ago.

Susan Mentzer-Blair, a guidance counselor at Middletown who’s worked with Boudart throughout his four years at the school, said she’s sure Boudart will thrive at the academy.

One of the joys of her job is watching students grow from freshmen who aren’t sure who they want to be to seniors with goals and a confident direction in their lives, she said.

“He’s certainly made that transition,” Mentzer-Blair said.

Although the school has sent graduates to the Naval Academy in Annapolis and a few to the Coast Guard Academy, she doesn’t remember any other students in her 24 years going to the maritime academy.

Working with students every day, you see which ones are leaders and which are followers, Mentzer-Blair said. Boudart has leadership traits that will serve him well, whether in the classroom or on the water.

“He’s one of those kids that others follow,” she said.

rmarshall@gazette.net